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Hit the dunes in UAE-based startup Zarooq Motors’ 500-hp race car

Zarooq Motors, a startup automaker based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has published more details about a brand new race car designed and built to hit the dunes. Called simply Sand Racer, the high-performance buggy is billed as the first car developed specifically for the UAE desert.

Zarooq founder Mohammed Al Qadi explains he created the Sand Racer to fill a niche in the market.

“There’s a huge demand today for a potent sand racer that’s tailored for our desert. You have big 4x4s which are bulky, you have buggies that are open and not the safest or the most practical, and you have recreational ATV-type vehicles that are not initially made for racing,” explains the startup’s top executive.

Penned by Anthony Jannarelly, the man who designed the Lykan Hypersport used in Fast and Furious 7, the Sand Racer looks both rugged and sporty thanks to a tall front end with thin LED lights, rakish A-pillars, an almost fastback-like silhouette, and pronounced wheel arches. A generous amount of ground clearance and nearly 17 inches of suspension travel allow the coupe to tackle obstacles with ease.

Pictures of the interior aren’t available yet, though Zarooq promises the Sand Racer boasts a track-inspired cabin that’s nonetheless fitted with comfort-focused equipment, including air conditioning.

Fully street legal, the 2,200-pound coupe is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that can be tuned to send anywhere between 300 and 500 horsepower to the rear wheels. The engine’s origins were not revealed; Nissan, Ford, and Toyota are among the major automakers that currently have a 3.5-liter V6 in their parts bin, and it’s worth pointing out that Toyota’s unit is relatively common in the UAE. Bolted to a six-speed sequential gearbox controlled by shift paddles, the six-cylinder propels the Sand Racer on to a top speed of 124 mph.

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Production of the $100,000 Sand Racer will begin as soon as the prototypes have completed the testing phase, and Zarooq predicts the first 20 cars will be delivered to customers next year. If everything goes according to plan, the Sand Racer will spawn a four-wheel drive model, a long-wheelbase version with four seats, a hybrid, and a variant that’s fully electric.

What’s next?

We’re taking this with a grain or two of salt, but Zarooq Motors hopes the Sand Racer will ultimately spawn a full lineup of sports cars designed with the UAE desert in mind. The company is also investing in the construction of a race course, called the Dubai off-road racing circuit, that will allow Sand Racer owners from all over the world to push their cars to the limit.

Updated 11/30/2015 by Ronan Glon: Added more information, new pictures.